Peabody Conservatory

Computer Music Department

EC 350.867 Synthesis Theory I

Fall, 2013


Instructor: McGregor Boyle

Synthesis Theory provides a comprehensive look at the issue of sound synthesis, and provides practical approaches to the various types of synthesis used in contemporary computer music. Topics to be covered will include analog synthesis, digital synthesis and sampling theory, additive synthesis, subtractive synthesis and various forms of non-linear synthesis. Relevant signal processing issues will be covered as well.

Specialized hardware and software systems will be used to demonstrate the techniques to be covered. The primary software used in the course will be Csound. The use of other various software systems will also be discussed in class.


There will be regular reading and synthesis assignments. Synthesis assignments will be due one week after they are given. Assignments turned in one week late will receive one-half credit, while those turned in two weeks late will receive one-quarter credit. No credit will be given after two weeks. A running list of the class assignments will be posted on the instructor's web page at


Boulanger, Richard. The Csound Book. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2000.

Moore, F. Richard. Elements of Computer Music. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Roads, Curtis. The Computer Music Tutorial. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1996.

Class Times

Synthesis Theory is scheduled to meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:20. The class will meet in room 314 (the Teaching Studio). Some adjustment to the Tuesday time may need to be made to allow the instructor to attend meetings. The class may be rescheduled entirely should the students request it.


Grades will be determined by the quality of the assignments (35%); two exams, a midterm (25%) and a final (25%); and class attendance and participation (15%).